Barneblad: De gode, gamle barnesangene (Good old-fashioned children’s songs)

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

If you ask your parents or grandparents to sing you a song from when they were little, it might be a song you know too. Some songs are classics. They are songs that are passed down from one generation to another. These songs are full of memories.

We have some of those songs in Norway too. There is not enough room here to share all of them, so I have picked out just a few. If you want to know more, check out some of the links included here.

Fader Jakob

“Fader Jakob” is a song that can be sung in many different languages. We sing it in English (Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, Brother John? Brother John?). It is a nursery rhyme that originally comes from France called “Frère Jacques.” (Video with sign language:

Fader Jakob, Fader Jakob,
sover du, sover du?
Hører du ei klokka?
Hører du ei klokka?
Ding, dang, dong, ding, dang, dong

Father Jacob, Father Jacob
are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
Don’t you hear the clock?
Don’t you hear the clock?
Ding, dang dong, ding, dang, dong

Mikkel Rev

Mikkel Rev is about fox named Michael. Norwegian children like songs about foxes. (Video:

Mikkel rev satt og skrev
på ei lita tavle.
Tavla sprakk,
Mikkel skvatt
opp i pappas flosshatt.

Mikkel Rev, skrev et brev,
sendte det til månen.
Månen sa: “Hipp hurra.”
Sendte det til Afrika.

Afrika, Afrika
ville ikke ha det.
Afrika, Afrika
sendte den tilbake.

Michael the Fox sat writing
on a tiny blackboard.
The blackboard cracked,
Michael jumped
into daddy’s top hat.

Michael the Fox wrote a letter
and sent it to the moon.
The moon said: “Hip hurrah,”
and sent it down to Africa.

Africa, Africa,
would not take it.
Africa, Africa,
sent it back.

Ro, ro til fiskeskjær

“Ro, ro til fiskeskjær” is a song many children sing when they are small. Put in anyone’s name at the end instead of using Frederik! (Video:

Ro, ro til fiskeskjær.
Mange fisker får vi der!
En til far og en til mor,
en til søster, en til bror,
og to til den som fisken fikk.
Og det var lille (Frederik)!

Row, row to the fishing reef
where we found many fish!
One for dad and one for mom,
one for sister, one for brother,
and two for the one who caught it.
And that was little (Frederik)!

A book about a fish and a hat
There is a really fun book about a little fish that steals a hat from a big fish. It is called This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. It won the 2013 Caldecott medal. If you want to read it in Norwegian, it is called Dette er ikke min hatt. You can order the Norwegian at

Min hatt

“Min hatt” was originally written in German (Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken). It is about a hat with three corners, and if it didn’t have three corners, it wouldn’t be my hat! Often this song is sung in Swedish. (Video:

Photo: Hugh Talman / Smithsonian
Tri-corn (three-cornered) hat worn in Colonial Connecticut. Is this your hat?

Min hatt den har tre kanter;
tre kanter har min hatt.
Og har den ei tre kanter,
så er den ei min hatt.

My hat, it has three corners;
three corners has my hat.
And if it didn’t have three corners,
it wouldn’t be my hat.

More Norwegian songs:

Are you interested in knowing more about children’s songs in Norway? Check out this wiki:

Here is a good book with classic Norwegian songs for all ages:

This article is a part of Barneblad, a monthly feature by Heidi Håvan Grosch to share with kids and grandkids.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 8, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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